Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Senate Recap – Part II

By Jim Ellis

US Senate makeup

US Senate makeup

Sept. 24, 2018 — Today we continue our look at the most competitive 17 US Senate contests with our second and final installment. To take a look at our Part I recap, please see our writeup this past Friday at: Senate Recap – Part I.


NEVADA

Sen. Dean Heller (R) is embroiled in an intense re-election battle with freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) as the two compete for a toss-up Senate seat. Heller won here in 2012 by a single percentage point over then-Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas), but that was in the election when President Obama carried Nevada, 52-46 percent.

Polls go back and forth between the senator and congresswoman, but neither leads beyond the margin of polling error. Since the beginning of September three polls have been released, and the average spread between the contenders is just two points. This is a pure toss-up election and, as a Republican defense seat, one of the most important campaigns in the nation.


NEW JERSEY

The Garden State is often a teaser for Republicans, meaning polls routinely suggest their candidates will fare better than actual results portend. The Senate race between incumbent Bob Menendez (D) and pharmaceutical CEO Bob Hugin (R) is likely no exception. Though several polls have indicated the race is competitive, it is probable that Sen. Menendez will pull away and score a comfortable win.

Polling has been scarce. The most recent survey was released in mid-August from Quinnipiac University (Aug. 15-20; 908 registered New Jersey voters) and projects the senator to be leading Hugin, 43-37 percent. Obviously, Menendez corruption trial that ended in the case against him falling apart and being dropped has taken a toll on his favorability index, but it is doubtful that even a 29:47 percent positive to negative personal approval rating (aforementioned Q-Poll) would cost him the election.


NORTH DAKOTA

If polling were the only factor in determining race outlook, then North Dakota would be the Republicans’ best conversion opportunity. Though polls have been anything but plentiful, those that have been published find at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) leading incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D).

The most recent study came in early September from Fox News (Sept. 8-11; 701 likely North Dakota voters) and finds Rep. Cramer holding a 48-44 percent advantage. This is the first survey release since the beginning of July.

The North Dakota race is a strong Republican conversion opportunity, but though Cramer appears to have a discernible edge right now, this contest is far from over.


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Senate Recap – Part I

By Jim Ellis

US Senate makeup

Current US Senate makeup

Sept. 21, 2018 — From the 35 US Senate in-cycle races it is clear that the major contests are narrowing to 16 competitive political battles. A 17th campaign, the one in California between Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) and state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), is also competitive, at least to a degree, but since both candidates are Democrats the outcome will not alter the partisan composition. Therefore, the Golden State does not factor into the battle for the Senate majority.

Today, we look at eight of the races and provide a quick update on the latest developments. Concentrating on the 16, if Republicans win any four they will hold at least a bare majority.


ARIZONA

The race between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) and Martha McSally (R-Tucson) has been flip flopping in the polls. Seven polls have been released in September. Rep. Sinema has led in five by an average of 3.4 percentage points. Rep. McSally took the lead in two surveys, with a mean of two percentage points.

A new independent group entitled Defend Arizona has launched a series of ads attacking Sinema that highlight previous statements advocating leniency for men who engage in child prostitution when the latter individual looks older than her age. How this line of attack will affect the race remains to be seen.


FLORIDA

Sen. Bill Nelson (D) is facing the strongest challenge of his career from Gov. Rick Scott (R). This race has been frequently polled, and no September study gives either man a lead of more than two points. Three polls project a Scott lead of one or two points. One survey gives Sen. Nelson a one-point edge, and a fifth study finds the two candidates deadlocked in a flat tie at 49 percent apiece.

Some believe that Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s presence on the statewide ticket as the Democratic gubernatorial nominee will help Sen. Nelson, others believe it will hurt. Those arguing that Gillum helps say that he will increase minority turnout, and that Nelson will tangentially benefit because such voters would likely vote straight Democratic. Those believing Gillum is a negative indicate that he will be portrayed as being too far left, which could be an impetus to spur more conservatives to vote.


INDIANA

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) faces former state representative and international businessman Mike Braun (R). Fox News conducted the only September poll in this race. Among likely voters, Braun had a two-point lead. But the registered voter universe tipped the scale toward Sen. Donnelly by a margin of just one point.

This is one more race that is a pure toss-up as we approach the last month of campaigning.


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Texas Sen. Ted Cruz Rebounds

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Sept. 20, 2018 — A new Quinnipiac University poll (Sept. 11-17; 807 likely Texas voters) finds that Sen. Ted Cruz (R), after languishing in a rather prolonged syndrome where he was only posting small single-digit leads over US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso), has opened a much larger advantage in his campaign for re-election.

The latest Q-Poll finds Sen. Cruz now topping Rep. O’Rourke, 54-45 percent, his strongest advantage since two polls (Gravis Marketing and YouGov) put him nine and 10 points ahead in early July.

It remains to be seen whether this Quinnipiac poll proves to be an outlier. Up until this release, seven Texas statewide polls had been conducted since early July, all with a mean average of 3.4 percentage points separating Cruz and O’Rourke, but always in the senator’s favor.

This poll suggests that Texas is one of the most polarized states in the country. Both parties produce almost unanimous support for their individual nominee. Sen. Cruz, by a whopping margin of 94-6 percent, commands Republican support. By the same token, Rep. O’Rourke sees virtually the same split forming behind him among Democrats, 94-4 percent. The Independents are leaning toward O’Rourke, 51-47 percent, but the larger number of Lone Star State Republican voters catapults Cruz into a comfortable lead.

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Nevada’s Polling Contradiction

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 19, 2018 — A new survey was just released covering the two Nevada statewide campaigns, and the results are curious.

Gravis Marketing tested the Silver State electorate (Sept. 11-12; 700 likely Nevada voters) and finds consistency with other polling in one race but projects a major change in the other.

Nevada Senate candidate, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) and Sen. Dean Heller (R)

Nevada Senate candidate, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D), and Sen. Dean Heller (R)

According to Gravis, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) holds a 47-45 percent lead over Sen. Dean Heller (R) in the US Senate campaign. Such a conclusion is well within the range of other published data.

Just as Gravis was beginning their survey process, Suffolk University was ending theirs (Sept. 5-10; 500 likely Nevada voters), and they saw Rep. Rosen holding a similarly close 42-41 percent edge. Suffolk also surveyed in late July (July 24-29; 500 likely Nevada voters) and found Sen. Heller clinging to a one-point 41-40 percent lead. All of these consistent findings suggest the Senate race has been, and continues to be, a pure toss-up.

But the same Gravis polling sample produced a radically different conclusion for the open governor’s race. All other previous data found Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D) and Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) locked in a close battle. The same two previous polls cited above for the Senate race, Suffolk University’s Sept. 5-10 survey and their July 24-29 study, actually found Sisolak ahead only 37-35 percent in the former, while Laxalt actually led 42-41 percent in the earlier poll.

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Health Care Politics

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 18, 2018 — In virtually every poll, health care is mentioned in the top three of the most important issues across the country. Therefore, ad themes attacking the problem from both ends of the political spectrum are now regularly appearing in every competitive congressional campaign.

The Democrats are zeroing in on Republican incumbents, in particular, on the pre-existing condition issue claiming that the GOP is trying to eliminate insurance coverage for those having previous health problems. The Dems support this argument by pointing to the Affordable Care Act repeal vote.

(Dr. Kim Shrier ad)

Republicans are now mounting an offensive against the pitch that many Democrats are promoting when they call for expanding Medicare coverage for everyone as the solution to the nation’s health insurance problem.

Both the campaigns themselves and various independent expenditure groups are attacking from both angles, and four ads presented below are typical examples of what we are seeing across the nation.

Washington Democrat Kim Shrier is running for the Seattle area district from which Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn) is retiring. She is a pediatrician, so naturally healthcare is a key theme for her campaign. Dr. Shrier is opposing Republican former state senator and statewide nominee Dino Rossi in what is clearly a toss-up campaign.

Rossi and Dr. Shrier topped a field of 12 candidates in the Washington jungle primary held on Aug. 7. The Republican, by far the most well-known candidate of the group, placed first with 43.1 percent of the vote. Dr. Shrier nipped fellow Democrat Jason Rittereiser, 18.7 – 18.1 percent to advance into the general election. But, in the aggregate, Democrats earned slightly more votes than Republicans in the district-wide primary vote 50.2 – 47.2 percent.

One of Dr. Shrier’s healthcare campaign ads is included above as a good example of how Democrats are attacking Republicans, particularly over the pre-existing condition issue. Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Overland Park) goes on the attack against his opponent, former White House fellow (Obama Administration) and professional Mixed Martial Arts boxer Sharice Davids (D), over her promoting “Medicare for all” and claims that such will lead to the elimination of private health insurance.

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